It was awesome.
Since there’s so much to discuss, let’s get right to it:
Free Agency Highlights and Lowlights : Division by Division
Highlights: I’m not sure that “hog-wild” is the right expression for an aquatic-themed team, but whatever the comparable phrase would be, that’s what Miami is doing in free agency. So far Miami has signed WR Mike Wallace (Steelers), LB Dannell Ellerbe (Ravens), LB Phillip Wheeler (Raiders), and resigned their own DT Randy Starks and WR Brian Hartline. However, as we’ve seen all too often in the recent past, he who wins free agency does not automatically win the regular season (Philly, I’m looking at you).
Lowlights: I don’t know if it gets any lower than the Patriots letting Wes Welker get signed by the Broncos after offering him a low deal and then offering the Rams’ Danny Amendola a comparable deal as the Broncos offered Welker. There are a lot of unhappy people in New England this week.
Highlights: The Browns signed LB Paul Kruger (Ravens) and OLB Quentin Groves (Cardinals), so their linebacking core just got a whole lot better.
Lowlights: Enjoy this Super Bowl offseason, Baltimore fans, since the entire first string has been dispersed in free agency. Ray Lewis, of course, retired, as did Matt Birk, but losing Boldin and Kruger and Ellerbe and Pollard and Williams and almost definitely Reed…it’s mind-boggling.
Highlights: Jets S LaRon Landry to the Colts is among the best deals of the AFC South so far, although the Titans breaking away from their traditional “sit back and watch” model to sign G Andy Levitre (Bills), RB Shonn Greene (Jets), TE Delanie Walker (Niners), and DT Sammie Lee Hill (Lions) made an equal or greater splash in the division.
Lowlights: S Glover Quin to Detroit looked like bad news for the Texans, but they are currently entertaining Ravens S Ed Reed, which could more than make up for the loss.
Highlights: The Broncos getting WR Wes Welker for practically nothing has to be the best deal of the bunch here (they also signed DB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Eagles, which is nothing to sneeze at, either). Watching how he and Manning work together will be one of the most anticipated parts of the 2013 season. As if the Broncos at Patriots game needed any more hype than Manning vs. Brady…
Lowlights: The Raiders…just the Raiders.
(Although they did get a slight nod from the world and all karma now that the Tuck Rule might be on it’s way out.)
Highlights: It’s been crickets over in the NFC East so far in free agency, although the Giants signing DT Cullen Jenkins (Eagles) was a good pick up for them after losing DT Chris Canty to the Ravens.
Lowlights: Did I miss something? Why isn’t anyone more alarmed that the Giants cut their beloved kicker Lawrence Tynes, who single-leggedly sent them to two Super Bowls with winning field goals in the NFC Championship games? Perhaps I regard him with more awe since it was his game-winning kick that stole the Packers Super Bowl ticket in that first NFC Championship game, but really, I don’t understand this move at all.
(Lawrence, we’d welcome you into Lambeau with open arms…no hard feelings about 2008.)
Highlights: Da Bears signed two big names right from the get-go: TE Martellus Bennett (Giants) and T Jermon Bushrod (Saints), while resigning DT Henry Melton. The Lions getting RB Reggie Bush from Miami and S Glover Quin from Houston are huge signings for Detroit, too.
Lowlights: Minnesota, or the place where former Packers go to retire. Seriously, this bothers me to no end. Here’s the short list of former Packers the Vikings have highjacked or attempted to highjack: Brett Favre, Ryan Longwell, Darren Sharper, Robert Ferguson, James Jones, Aaron Kampman, William Henderson. And now they’re going after Greg Jennings. Let me tell you…it gets my blood boiling.
If Jennings does end up in Minnesota, looks like he’ll be receiving passes from QB Matt Cassel (Chiefs), who was brought in on Thursday to be the starter, demoting former starter Christian Ponder to the backup role.
Highlights: The Falcons get to keep TE Tony Gonzalez for another season, which is without a doubt the best action in the division so far. They are also keeping LT Sam Baker, which is huge for them, and just signed Steven Jackson (Rams) as well. The Bucs have had a pretty impresive free agency, too, signing S Dashon Goldson from San Francisco and are the leading contender for CB Darrelle Revis (Jets).
Lowlights: I might have overlooked something, but there really isn’t much to report here. It’s been all quiet on the Southern front as far as (apparent) jaw-dropping errors in judgment are concerned.
Highlights: And we’ve saved the best for last! I love it that there is always room for another rivalry in the NFL, and the one brewing between the Niners and the Seahawks continues to get better and better. Aside from the fact that the head coaches have been career-long enemies, the teams are now sitting atop the NFC West as the best teams in a division that was once laughably bad. That rivalry was shown in full force when the Seahawks signed WR Percy Harvin from Minnesota…and the Niners answered by signing WR Anquan Boldin from the Ravens. Touche. Next: the Seahawks signed DE Clif Avril (Lions)…while the Niners signed DE Glenn Dorsey (Chiefs). And the arms race has officially begun.
Lowlights: Losing WR Danny Amendola to the Patriots and RB Steven Jackson subtracts some of the offensive prowess the Rams might have been able to boast previously, but then again, it hasn’t really done much for them in the past few seasons, anyway.
And undoubtedly by the time this gets posted at 6am tomorrow morning…there will be even more signings to report.
That’s free agency: better than any award winning movie! Enjoy the craziness while it lasts!